Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Fine literature

Now, this is something I enjoy very much, fine literature. I love a Fitzgerald novel or something from the Bronte sisters. I’m all over it. Which is why I’m enjoying Scandalous Innocent so much. I just wanted to give you all a flavour of the high standard of writing that we are dealing with here. Enjoy! And don’t blame me if you’re all rushing to the shops afterward to buy a copy.

“Smiling, he recalled the haughty, heavy-lidded dismissive blink of her amazingly dark eyes, refusing even to please him with an answer to his invitation, as if he’d invited her to an orgy instead of a drive in Hyde Park.”

“The rain gusted wearily against the black windows, and from behind a bank of angry clouds a full moon began sailing through the tattered remnants of the storm like a disc of white enamel edged with watery pearls.”

“She watched him as carefully as a cat watches a bird too large for her to catch unawares.”

“By morning, her decisions were veering like a weather-vane in a windy gale between staying in the same house as a man she had made a point of hating for the past three years, and galloping off home on an excuse that was as transparent as the June sky.”

“Loving him one moment and hating him the next, wanting his happiness yet wishing to punish him for being unattainable, Elizabeth saw this as a chance to put herself in Mistress Laker’s shoes and to fight him, physically, to feel the emotion of being conquered and won, as she never would be.”

“No sooner had he shouldered the door closed and tipped her on to her feet, than his supporting arm pulled her close into the hard bend of his body and, even before she could begin to guess what he was about, began a kiss that for sheer skill excelled the previous one.”

“Claudette, who had never met a real Viscount before, half-expected him to be wearing a red velvet ermine-edged robe with a coronet on his head rather than the double-breasted tailcoat with high stand-fall collar and a grey striped waistcoat showing below.”

It’s just fabulous, isn’t it? Well written. Eloquent. The sentences are not at all long and rambly and nonsensical. Talking of nonsensical, what’s all that nonsense about a cat watching a bird too large to catch unawares? What. On. Earth. What does that mean? And the kiss having ‘sheer skill.’ Skill? I just. I don’t. I’m really not sure where to start with this whole wordy mess.  

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My recent speech impediments

Recently, I’ve developed a few odd speech impediments. I’m not sure where they’ve come from or whether it’s just a result of working in a busier environment with customers and so I’m talking more.

The first one is definitely a talking-more thing. When people say thank you for something, I always say, “No problem.” It’s a bit nonsensical anyway because why would there be a problem with them saying thank you? And surely it’s for them to say ‘no problem’ because I’ve done something correctly when they asked me for it. Or maybe it means, “There’s no problem in getting it for you.” In which case, it is me who needs to say it.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I usually say ‘no problem.’ But because there are lots of customers, I’m trying to speak quickly so I can serve the next customer and I keep saying, “No ploblem.”

I’m not sure if they’ve noticed but it’s happening 50% of the time now. When I open my mouth to say, “No problem,” I’ve no guarantee whether I’ll say problem or ploblem.

The second one is something I imagine a grandma might often say. I keep telling people I’ll just “pop and” get them something.

Sample conversation in which I say “pop and.”

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“I’d just like a pot of tea please.”

“Ok, great, that’s going to be £1.75 please.”

“Can I pay by card?”

“Yes, that’s fine. If you just put your card into the machine and it will give you the instructions. I’ll just pop and make your tea while you’re doing that.”

I’m sorry? Pop AND make your tea? Why not just say “I’ll make your cup of tea while you’re doing that”? Am I implying that I shall pop before doing the pot of tea? And what on earth might this ‘pop’ consist of?

People say, “I’m just popping to the shops” or “Pop the kettle on.” The ‘pop’ in itself is kind of a byword for the word that should have been there. So what does my ‘pop’ mean? It’s totally superfluous to the sentence. I’ve already said, “I’ll make your cup of tea” so the “pop and” is simply in there for show.

And now I’ve noticed it and become conscious of it, I’ve been saying it for loads of stuff. It’s got out of control.

“I’ll pop and get you some bread for your soup.”

“If you sit down, I’ll pop and bring you the scones when they’re ready.”

“That’s £3.20, thank you. I’ll pop and get your change for you now.”

“I’ll just pop and get you a wine glass for your drink.”

10 words (part 3)

It’s Wednesday and time for my guest blogger to take over today 🙂

 

10 WORDS – 3

Well it’s roughly 3 months since I did my last 10 words post (and about 3 months before that the first one) so here goes with a third lot. But just before I get into the new words I thought it might be good to just list the previous ones. How many meanings you can remember?

(19.12.12) 10 Words – 1: Scrofulous, Saponifying, Manticora, Nutation, Costive, Smörgåsbord, Panemone, Leitmotif, Rhabdomancy, Scrimshaw.

(20.03.13) 10 Words – 2: Chthonian, Sisyphean, Anaglyptography, Dendrochronology, Agitprop, Fomites, Voroni Diagram, Uxorious, Prolegomena, Armigerous.

Here we go:

1. TAPHEPHOBIA – (From p.26 in March 2013 edition of magazine called Wonderpedia)

It means: the fear of being buried alive.

The sentence in the magazine is simply explaining its meaning so no need to quote it here.

2. GARDEROBE – (This is from p.483 of The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien)

It means: a wardrobe or its contents, an armoury, a private room, a privy.

Now that’s quite a spread of meanings so I think you have to gauge the right one by the context. Clearly the word is of French origin and at first glance would appear to suggest a place to keep (garde) a robe or clothing. Whilst this is definitely one of its meanings, in the use quoted below it probably refers to something which was a forerunner of our modern day toilet (so the privy definition). Some medieval castles had a simple hole which went through the wall into either a cesspit or the moat. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t a good idea to try and escape by swimming across the moat; it could easily have contained untold amounts of human faeces

Here’s a picture of one built in a castle in England.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Garderobe,_Peveril_Castle,_Derbyshire.jpg

Certain types of Middle Eastern dhows, even today, still have a small box built onto the stern which crew members can crouch down in so that the waste (number 2s!) goes out into the water. You can see them along the Creek in Dubai and other ports around the Arabian Gulf. (Colloquially, they were called “thunder boxes” when I was there.)

And here’s how it’s used in the book:

“I groaned with the pain, retching into the garderobe until my belly was raw and then I was driven to my chamber with curtains pulled to douse me in darkness until I could withstand the light once more.”

3. TERGIVERSATION– (This is from p.64 of the BBC History Magazine, Apr 2013)

It means: the turning of one’s back, desertion, changing of sides, shuffling, shifting

And here’s how it’s used (in the review of a book by J. Patrick Corby):

“Corby describes his target audience as college students, and the opening survey of European History, and the introductory tone of much of his prose appears to confirm this. Yet such students might stumble over words like ‘tergiversation’ or baulk at a number of unsubstantiated statements…..”

4. SORTILÈGES – (This is from p.23 of the BBC History Magazine, Apr 2013)

It means: divination by drawing lots.

And here’s how it’s used in an article about Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn:

“Another story, reported third-hand by Chapuys, quotes Henry as telling an unidentified courtier that he had married Anne ‘seduced and constrained by sortilèges’”.

5. HENDIADYS – (This is from p.36 of The Acts of the Apostles by J. A. Alexander)

It means: An expression in which an adjective & noun are replaced by two nouns joined by ‘and’: e.g. saying someone was ‘clad in cloth & green’ instead of ‘clad in green cloth’.

And here’s how it’s used:

“Ministry & apostleship is not a mere hendiadys meaning apostolic ministry but a generic and specific term combined, the one denoting service in general, the other a particular office.”

A further well-known example can be found in a line in The Lord’s Prayer: “For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory”, which is another way of saying, “For Thine is the glorious, powerful Kingdom”. In this case, two adjectives & a noun are replaced by three nouns with the conjunction ‘and’ linking them to give an additional emphasis.

 

6. HAMADRYAD – (This is from p.160 of The Elizabethans by A. N. Wilson)

It means: A wood-nymph which dies when the tree in which she lives dies or a large Ethiopian baboon.

And here’s how it’s used:

“Even the hunting parties were punctuated with pageantry. As she came riding home one evening, she was met by Gascoigne dressed as the Savage Man. On another evening he was Sylvanus, god of the woods, who told her that all the forest dwellers, the fauns, dryads, hamadryads and wood-nymphs were in tears at the rumour that she might be about to leave.”

Here’s a pic of one type of Hamadryad

Try getting that one into your conversation this week!

7. DEMI-MONDAINE – (This is from p.58 of a book called The Love & Wars of Lina Prokofiev)

It means: A kept mistress of society men; shady section of a profession or group; a class of women in an unrespectable social position.

And here’s how it’s used:

“In her first letters from Paris to Serge (Prokofiev), Lina mentions fraternizing with the nineteen year old demimondaine Alice Prin, nicknamed ‘Kiki de Montparnasse.’”

The book gives a very interesting insight into something of the politics & manoeuvrings in the world of classical music composers and the Russian government. Despite Lina’s parents being a Russian-born soprano and a Spanish tenor she does not seemed to have inherited their vocal gift to quite the same degree. She was certainly a singer of merit but never quite reached the pinnacle of her profession and seemed to miss out on crucial roles. Even Prokoviev himself could not emulate the slightly older Stravinsky and although his rivalry with Rachmaninoff, some said, proved he was a better composer he remained less popular than him. Perhaps his most widely known piece is Peter and the Wolf in which Peter is represented by the strings and the wolf by the horns; other instruments represent other animals: the flute a bird, the oboe a duck, the clarinet a cat, the bassoon a grandfather and the woodwind section the hunters.

8. CHIAROSCURO – (This is from Loc 4003 of 5004 in Kindle book – Samuel F. B. Morse (His Letters and Journals))

It means: A painting in black & white; Effects of light & shade or variety & contrast

And here’s how it’s used:

“The story is not told; the figures are not grouped but huddled together; they are not well-drawn individually; the character is vulgar and tame; there is not taste in the disposal of the drapery and ornaments, no effect of chiaroscuro.”

In case you’re wondering about the name, it really is the Morse who invented the Morse code. However Samuel Findley Breese Morse started life as a portrait painter and spent many years doing just that. Born in 1791, he was admitted to the Royal Academy in 1811 but did not develop the Morse Code until into his forties.

9. INELUCTABLY(This is from p.269 of The Love & Wars of Lina Prokofiev)

It means: Not able to be escaped from or avoided

And here’s how it’s used:

“The accounts of women who knew Lina in the camps are ineluctably confused with dates and events overlapping.”

The reference to ‘camps’ here is because Lina Prokofiev was sent to prison (the Gulags), on fabricated charges, for what turned out to be 8 years (after having been sentenced to 20 years). She was incarcerated in various “camps” (for example, Inta, Abez, Yava, Potma) and it is believed only her Christian Science beliefs helped her endure the terrible physical and mental conditions she experienced there. She was released in June 1956 having been helped in her appeal by one of her husband’s rivals – the composer Shostakovich. (Prokofiev himself had died in 1953.) She was finally able to emigrate from Russia in 1974 and settled in England. She died in London, in 1989, aged 91.

10. STERTOROUSLY – (This is from p.193 of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell)

It means: With a snoring sound

And here’s how it’s used:

“She sat up very late, sewing, and when at length she did go upstairs she found him lying on his back, partly undressed on the outside of the bedclothes, with his mouth wide open, breathing stertorously.”

This is a weighty tome at just short of 600 pages set in about 1906. Although obviously allegorical it pointedly uses quite ordinary names for the workers: Owen, Philpot, Barrington, Easton, Sawkins etc. However the bosses, companies and other important officials of town council of Mugsborough get such names as: Rushton, Crass, Slyme, Dauber & Botchit, Makehaste & Sloggit, Bluffem & Doemdown, Snatcher & Graball, Smeariton & Leavit; even some of the ladies are given disparaging ‘names’ like Mrs M. T. Head, Mrs Knobrane & Mrs Starvem. You get the idea.

And finally:

In 1946, George Orwell wrote an essay called “Politics and the English Language”. In it he highlighted something very relevant to writers and politicians. I’d like to finish with his quote:

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Things Trumpkin says

About a week ago, I attempted another challenge from my book called Going Greener by Simon Gear. He asked me to have a cup of tea in the garden. It was about appreciating nature and also getting know the garden all year round. When I woke up on the day I intended to do it, it had rained and looked freezing. So I stayed in bed instead.

This morning, I thought, let’s go for it again, get a jumper on and let’s do this! The last few days have been scorchio so I felt confident it would be nice for my challenge.

And then I woke up this morning and came downstairs and…..

image

Yeh, I’m regretting putting that towel out on the line now.

And so, the back up plan comes into play. It’s similar to another post I wrote last week, about my favourite quotes from Narnia but today I’m specifically focussing on one character from the fourth book, Prince Caspian, a red dwarf called Trumpkin. You’ll see why I’ve chosen him to quote.

“Horns and halibuts!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Bulbs and bolsters!” he thought.

“Whistles and whirligigs!” said Trumpkin.

“Thimbles and thunderstorms!” he cried.

“Lobsters and lollipops!” he muttered.

“Giants and junipers!” Trumpkin shouted.

“Tubs and tortoiseshells!” said Trumpkin.

“Cobbles and kettledrums!” he shouted.

“Wraiths and wreckage!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Weights and water-bottles!” came Trumpkin’s angry voice.

Brilliant, aren’t they? We really should speak like this again.

So if you get annoyed at any point today, feel free to use any one of these phrases to exclaim, to show your annoyance. It also works for situations in which you are shocked or excited.

Search terms 6

This always gives me a huge amount of pleasure, checking my search terms for the past month. We’ve got a repeat of a certain bestiality-esque search and something which I’m not sure I want to know the story behind… Something about a grandad… A grandad and their gender…. There are also a few interesting welly searches that have ended up here.

gelatarias
liverpool “mill stile” footpath
inside 251 menlove avenue
george michael grove road highgate
laura maisey law
woolton reservoir
wellies naked
skytrain at the o2 arena
inside 20 forthlin road
swim gods
vaynites
dish called pouffe
kate moss highgate
swastika shaped building balham
unusual wacky jewlery
transvestite wellies
cousin violet’s quote on excess
jennifer lopez thought of namibia
teddington
ladies bathing tag move
granny boobs
sofa with scallops
gold frosting
pouffe recipe
why do i say things twice
laura maisey
security guards in james bond movie
winp simon callow impressed by poem
bikram classes northwich
suicide bridge highgate incident
kingston university is crap
jeremy kyle pig cow
girelephant crood
womenanddogsex
joni mitchell anorexic
sex change granddad
grease on wall behind bed
antipasti music paper
lucille ball oops
the hamlyn all colour cookbook by mary berry
dinosaur tattoo

Three-word days

Good morning everyone. Today my guest blogger has an interesting new spin on diary-keeping. Enjoy!

I wonder if you’ve ever tried to keep a diary. Perhaps you have or maybe you still do. If you can make it a habit it’s a great source of reflections on your life and what happened in it at a particular time. Many years ago I did keep a diary for a couple of years and then more recently did it for just one year. It’s hard to keep it going though. Perhaps you’ve done a holiday diary for say a week or 2 weeks. Again I’ve done that where you not only write but stick in the pages all sorts of bits like tickets or leaflets about the things you did or visited. However I wonder if you’ve ever thought of maybe recording just one event for the day, one thing which stood out. There is a radio prog here in the UK on national radio in which people are invited to write/text/email in with their day summaries but it can only be 3 words. Yes that’s right only 3 words. Now of course it’s well nigh impossible to write a summary of your day in three words so people pick one thing which for them made the day special or different or just one thing they want to remember for that particular day. It might even be an opinion on something in the news.

Here are just 3 examples of the many which are read out. You can see the kinds of things people send in, for each day. These were sent in to the programmes from last week. Each one is from a different person and they read them out at various times during the 2 hour prog:

——————————————————————————————————————

Mon – 1. No snow here 2. Single yet again 3. Panic bought chocolate

Tue – 1. Freezing fingers off 2. Ready for bed 3. Scandinavia is laughing

Wed – 1. Four large cookies 2. Still in pyjamas 3. Cruciate ligament snapped

Thu – 1. Hernia op success 2. Good riddance snow 3. Regretting yesterday’s curry

——————————————————————————————————————

I think you get the idea.

Here are my recent 3-word days:

Mon 21.1.13 – Off work today

Tue 22.1.13 – Thirteen hour shift

Wed 23.1.13 – Slept in late

Thu 24.1.13 – Saw Les Miserables

Fri 25.1.13 – Changed bed linen

Sat 26.1.13 – Helen Shapiro concert

Sun 27.1.13 – Snow almost gone

Mon 28.1.13 – Projector fault investigated

Also I have some from a couple of years ago:

Wed 10.11.10 Contact Buchter News

Thu 11.11.10 Windy night Blackpool

Thu 18.11.10 Hospital, needle, arm

Mon 22.11.10 Donation, anonymity, accepted

Tue 23.11.10 Happy faces Luderitz

Wed 24.11.10    Cheques in post

 

Why don’t you give it a try? You might be surprised as you look back on those brief words for each day. It’s much easier & quicker than the full diary thing and keeps just a thought for the day for you to remember. It can be a challenge but I think you might enjoy doing it so have a go and see how you get on. Then why don’t you do a reply sending your 3-word summary for the day you are reading this or maybe do it for a week and send the whole seven days in a reply next week – (that would still only be 21 words).

Things it’s ok to do as a child

Stop a party of six whilst out walking so that you can wish on a star.

Fart and blame it on the TV.

Have long conversations with your reflection in the mirror.

Have plain spaghetti and green ‘olibs’ (olives) for dinner.

Say things like, “I’m going to marry Adam. When I’m 13.”

Have people accompany you to the toilet, just to chat to them about Barbie.

Declare loudly, “I don’t like hippos!” at the dinner table with absolutely no prerequisite.

Reply to the sentence, “I’m scared of monsters,” with the advice, “You should eat your carrots then.”

Jump in all puddles, even ones which are tiny, five hundred times before moving on, even when everyone’s in a rush.

Dig around in your nostril for a massive snot then wipe it on the nearest person forehead (Danda’s).

Tell everyone in the room whether it is a wee or a poo that you are going to the bathroom for.

Drink your entire body weight in apple juice.

Laugh hysterically for ten whole minutes at someone pulling tongues at you.

Rub novelty Gruffalo shampoo all over everyone’s faces and necks and tell them it is make up.

Paint a grown man’s fingernails (Danda’s) with silver glittery nail varnish then insist he go out to McDonald’s with it still on.

Talk for twenty minutes about the best way to defeat dragons.

Eat a whole apple before holding up the core and saying, “I don’t like apples.”

Put animal stickers all over your face in public and sit on a windowsill looking around and waving at strangers.